Home Opinion and Features A Greek tragedy unfolds in the City of Thirst

A Greek tragedy unfolds in the City of Thirst


THE FUNHOUSE MIRROR COLUMN: Behold! The Oracle hath spoken: “Verily, I say unto thee, Sol Plaatje Council, Thy fate is sealed, thy coffers empty, thy aqueducts dry, For thou art too busy penning odes to ineptitude while your citizens suffer.”

A Greek tragedy unfolds in the City of Thirst. Picture: MS Dabbler

By Monty Quill

IN THE ancient city of Sol Plaatje, where the gods of bureaucracy and incompetence reigned supreme, a calamity unfolded. The citizens, already parched and weary, faced yet another water shutdown. The Oracle of Municipal Services had foretold this dire event, but alas, the city council was too busy feasting on taxpayer funds to heed the warning.

Act I: The Council’s Feast

In the grand marble chambers of the City Hall, the councillors sat around a circular table, goblets of sparkling mineral water in hand. Their togas were embroidered with golden taps, a symbol of their authority over the city’s liquid lifeblood. Mayor Oligarchus, a portly man with a penchant for lavish banquets, raised his goblet.

“Friends,” he boomed, “let us toast to our ingenious plan: shutting down the water supply for five days during the hottest weekend of the year! Surely, the citizens will appreciate our creativity.”

The air in the chamber thickened with anticipation, like the oppressive heat of a summer noon. Mayor Oligarchus revelled in the moment, his jowls quivering with excitement. To him, this was more than a mere toast – it was a proclamation of power, a declaration of dominion over the very essence of life.

The councillors clinked their goblets, blissfully unaware that the citizens were sharpening their pitchforks outside.

Act II: The Citizens’ Anguish

Beyond the gilded walls of the City Hall, anger simmered. The citizens, parched and weary, had endured scorching days and restless nights. Their crops withered, their livestock gasped for water and their children cried out in thirst. The fountain squares, once bubbling with crystal-clear water, now stood dry and cracked, mocking their suffering.

As the sun blazed mercilessly, the people of Sol Plaatje gathered in the central square. Their tongues were drier than ancient scrolls, and their anger simmered like a neglected pot of pap.

The High Priestess of Hydration stepped forward, her amphora held high.

“O mighty gods of Olympus,” she cried, her words echoing off the sun-baked walls, “why dost thou forsake us? Is this punishment for our sins, or merely the result of bureaucratic incompetence?”

The crowd, a congregation of parched souls, murmured in agreement. Their eyes, bleary from the relentless glare, fixed upon a lone philosopher: Socrates the Waterless. He stood atop a crumbling pedestal, a relic of forgotten wisdom, his gaze piercing through the haze of suffering.

“Verily”, he intoned, “the municipal council resembles a gathering of blindfolded cats attempting to navigate a labyrinth of bureaucratic yarn. Their deliberations? A symphony of meows and hisses, punctuated by the occasional nap.

“Alas, our suffering is but a tragicomedy played out by fools.”

Act III: The Grand Scheme to Appease the Masses

The water fountains ran dry, and the city’s aqueducts resembled ancient ruins. Citizens wandered the streets, their skin cracking like parchment. The wealthy bribed the guards to fill their swimming pools with tears, while the poor resorted to licking dew off wilted leaves.

In the Council Chamber, Mayor Oligarchus wiped his brow with a silk handkerchief. “Fear not,” he declared, “for I have a solution – a remedy to our parched plight! Let us import water from Atlantis.”

“But sire,” whispered the Dorian mime, “Atlantis is a myth.”

Mayor Oligarchus waved a dismissive hand. “Details, my dear fool,” he scoffed. “Details. What matters is that it exists in our collective imagination. And imagination, my friends, can be a powerful ally. We shall negotiate with the tides, bargain with the sea itself. A mere trifle, really.”

And so, in the heart of a drought-stricken city, hope sprouted – an improbable seed nourished by desperation and fuelled by the audacity of a mayor who dared to defy reality. Whether Atlantis lay hidden beneath the waves or danced upon the edge of myth mattered little. For in that moment, the promise of water – however fantastical – was salvation itself.

Act IV: The Divine Intervention

Yet, like all things transient, the moment wouldn’t last. The mirage of promised water would dissipate, leaving the citizens with nothing but the taste of dust.

But just as hope dwindled, a celestial figure descended from the heavens. It was none other than Aquarius, the Water Bearer. His chiselled abs glistened in the sun, and his hair flowed like a pristine river.

“Listen, mortals,” he boomed. “Your plight amuses the gods – their immortal hearts stirred by your desperation. They’ve decided to grant you a divine drop of rain. Use it wisely.”

The citizens rejoiced, their faces upturned to try and catch the celestial blessing. Hands cupped, they cradled the precious droplet, their eyes wide with wonder. But Mayor Oligarchus, ever the opportunist, seized upon this divine offering. He bottled it and sold it as “Limited Edition Divine Elixir” for 100 drachmas a pop.

And so it was that hope, once dwindling, found itself commodified – a currency traded in the marketplace of mortal desires. Aquarius watched, his celestial gaze both amused and sorrowful. For in that single drop of rain lay both salvation and folly – the paradox of humanity, distilled into a glass vial.

And as the elixir changed hands, the heavens wept silently, mourning the irony of their own creation. For what is divinity but a reflection of mortal folly, and what is rain but tears shed by the cosmos itself?

Epilogue: The Moral

And thus, the tragedy of Sol Plaatje became a cautionary tale: Beware the arrogance of leaders who feast while their people thirst. Incompetence breeds suffering, and the consequences are inscribed in the city’s dry taps. Sol Plaatje’s tragedy serves as a timeless lesson: true leadership prioritises the welfare of all, not just the privileged few.

ALSO READ: City faces another water shutdown

Disclaimer: This tale is a work of satire. Any resemblance to actual municipal councils, living or defunct, is purely coincidental. This narrative is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice on urban planning, water management, or how to properly run a city council.

A Greek tragedy unfolds in the City of Thirst. Picture: MS Dabbler
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